Talking golf with Coach Tesori: Q and A with the men’s head coach

Matt Stallknecht ‘15, Staff Writer

Joe Tesori is the Le Moyne Men’s golf coach. He has had a storied career in the field of sports up to this point in life, and all of his work was validated this past week. Tesori was inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, a prestigious honor that many Syracuse-area sports figures can only dream of. Tesori caught up with the Dolphin last Thursday to discuss not only this honor, but also his thoughts on the golf team’s fall season and what he thinks is in store for the golf team in the future.


Q.   This past weekend your team competed in it’s last tournament of the fall season, the ADPRO Sports Invitational. Le Moyne placed fourth in that event. What were your expectations going into that tournament and how would you gauge the team’s overall performance in that tournament?

A.  It’s a brand new tournament hosted by Roberts Wesleyan and Damaen. We figured on paper we were about fourth or fifth anyway due to the strength of the field. I think we placed about where I expected. We played okay, it was a good way to end the season at a great site in a very strong field.


Q.   Next, let’s talk about the fall season as a whole. Your team performed admirably this year, winning two tournaments and finishing no lower than fifth throughout the season. What was the biggest factor behind your team’s success?

A. Well I think there’s two things. We’re young, and we have a good freshman in John Clare who won two individual titles, so that was a big help. But for two years these kids have been taking it on the chin from [more experienced] programs, but I saw in them great talent and work ethic. Their effort the past two years is starting to pay off. After we won our first tournament at Franklin Pierce, I could see that their opinions of themselves were much higher and more confident than they ever have been, and [the confidence] carried through the fall. All in all, it was probably the most successful fall that Le Moyne golf has ever had with two individual and two team titles.


Q.   Heading into the spring season, what does your team need to work on in order to see more success?

A.  They have to work on their physicality. Through the trainers here, including Mike DerCola and Troy Andrews, we’re going to have them work on strength and conditioning and flexibility issues. Through the training, I think we’re going to be stronger and more physically fit. We didn’t finish rounds as well as we should have this year. A lot of it can be mental, but if your legs are going and you’ve got some physical issues, it can cause problems. We can get stronger, and we look to come out in the Spring being stronger and better conditioned than we’ve ever been. Having Mike on board is going to help Le Moyne athletics across the board over the winter.


Q.   What is your outlook for the spring season as a whole? What will be the biggest challenges facing your team?

A. Our goal every year is to reach the NCAA Regionals. The latest poll came out yesterday and we’re fourth in the region…the top 10 go to the NCAAs. So we just have to hit the spring season running and not let all the hard work put in over the past few months go to the wayside, and I don’t think it will. Our goal is to make a Spring trip to North Carolina and compete, and then we’re playing at Dowling in West Chester, then the last event of the year before the NCAA bids is our own invitational with 15-18 teams. We always play pretty good on our own turf, so that will help us, and North Carolina will be a very strong field. So to just keep the kids thinking about what we have to do to get better and to get to the regionals, then play up to our ability and hopefully reach the Nationals, is what we are working to achieve.


Q.   You played on the PGA Tour in the 1980s and have worked as a golf professional in a variety of capacities since then. How has your experience as a professional helped make you a better collegiate golf coach?

A. I tell these kids that there’s no reason to think about failing in front of their loved one, or their coaches, or whatever, because I’ve failed in front of 20,000 people. I’ve failed bigger and on a larger scale than they have. I know how tough it is to get to the top, or the highest level of play. I also know how tough it is to get to the next level. So what I can give the kids is seasoned advice on what it takes to really get good, as well as how difficult that process is. You’re judged not by how good your good shots are, you’re judged by how good your bad shots are. Along with that, I learned that you don’t have to be that good, you just have to be good enough. It’s not the hitting of shots that make the difference, its’ the decisions you make, and our team really made great decisions this year.


Q.   What is your favorite aspect of coaching golf, and more specifically, what is your favorite aspect of coaching golf at Le Moyne?

A. Well, there’s a few of us, I think there’s three or four alumni here coaching at their alma mater. To coach at your college. I don’t know if it gets any better than that. The passion that I have for Le Moyne is at a high level, so to take the sport that I have a passion for, at the school I have a passion for, and couple it with the process of helping these kids make good decisions…that’s what keeps me going. I love coaching here at Le Moyne, I love the kids, and I know that playing golf at this level makes you a more disciplined, patient, and thoughtful person. I’m lucky to work with the quality students we have at the place I love.



Q.   You were just recently inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame. What is it like and how does it feel to be given such a prestigious honor?

A. You know, when I got inducted into the Le Moyne Hall of Fame, that was something that you never even think about. Then I got elected into the CNY PGA Hall of Fame, and that was at a different level, that was based on my body of work as a club professional. To be considered and then inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame…that makes what I’ve done relevant. I mean, as a golf professional, as a one-time participant on the tour, refereeing, coaching at various levels in various sports. I’ve involved myself with sports. And to be recognized by the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame for essentially what I’ve given back is great, because I’m certainly not going in based on my time on the PGA Tour. I like to joke that I was probably the worst player out there! So, I’m in there because of my body of work over 40-something years, that I’ve given to people. I’ve given myself to people to help people be better in a sport they love, so for me, the word is “relevance.” What I’ve done has obviously meant something and that’s pretty gratifying.